Day 162: My last PCT Zero Day

Mon. 9/30/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 2599.3, Rainy Pass

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I had to add this new piece of gear to my gear kit. Sometimes the littlest things give me butterflies in my tummy.

Yup, our last zero day. At least that’s the plan. It was a pretty simple day. Aloha and I woke up and I organized some trail food, we got our stuff in the car and had breakfast. We then went to room 3 at the Duck Brand hotel to hang with the others until our room was ready. A quick grocery store stop for tortillas and I was back in room 3 for another game of Monopoly. With no frosting or gamepiece trades, I wasn’t doing so well.

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We didn't finish but Cuddles and Atlas were definitely in contention for a win.

A little while later the game was paused because Fun Size’s girlfriend showed up with some warm gear from home. Wow. We are so very grateful. I borrowed socks, a pair of warmer base-layer pants, a hat that looks like a weird gourd and some waterproof snowboarding mittens. My pack is ultimately stuffed, but I feel pretty confident that I’ll be warm, so I’m okay with it… for now. I’m sure my shoulders will rebel, but I can handle 60 miles of it. Right? I’m only a little confident… I have more determination that I hope will take over and carry me there. Yup, grandma Drexler, the proverbial red wagon is being dragged behind me.

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Laura and Fun Size with a basket of warmies. Thank You!!

So here we go… I just will not be satisfied until I get up into those newly snow-covered mountains and try to hike to Canada. If I get turned around because of conditions and have to hike on a road for 100 miles, so be it. I’m going to hike to that monument. Maybe I’ll just pretend this last stretch will be like training for the Frozen Otter adventure race. Maybe I should sign up for that in January… I’ve got so many random thoughts running through my mind. I need to focus and just hike tomorrow. Simple as a pimple. Pop and move on. Did I just say that? Weird.

Dinner was at a Mexican restaurant and I stuffed myself with delicious steak tacos and a ginormous margarita.

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Nom.

Thanks to all of my followers, here and on facebook. I’ve gotten so many encouraging comments from people, prayers, and willingness to help us in every way people can think of. It’s really amazing and totally humbling and I love every single one of you! I’m so happy to be sharing this journey with all of you, so you know what!? Let’s all get out on that PCT tomorrow and hike to Canada! I’m taking you all with me, just as I have this whole trip. Let’s do this!! ♡


Tonight, again, I love you, my readers and fellow hikers, rooting for us, praying for us and thinking about us. It really is a huge boost, so thank you.

Next time you hear from me, hopefully it will be a photo of me kissing that Northern Monument in Canada just like I did at the Southern Monument at the Mexican border. [Tummy Butterflies]

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The death of my 3rd pair of shoes, only because they were replaced with waterproof boots for the 8,000 feet of snow predicted.

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Lighthouse is geared up and ready to go. All the important parts covered and warm.

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Sweet gourd hat.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

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Day 161: Formulating a plan

Sun. 9/29/13
0 miles, currently at Mile 2599.3, Rainy Pass

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Scouting drive to Hart's Pass.

Today our group planned a zero day, and our focus was to try to figure out every possible option we had for these last 60 miles, lay them all on the table and try to make a safe, smart decision.

The first thing we did today was take a drive up to Hart’s Pass to see what the weather was doing up there. Adam drove, while Cuddles, Fun Size, Lighthouse and I rode along. We left feeling pretty low and expecting to turn the car around halfway up due to snow. We were surprised as we climbed that there wasn’t as much snow as we thought. The weather is still supposed to get nasty, but at least we knew what we were starting with.

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The PCT at Hart's Pass.

So we found snow up there, but probably just a solid 2-3″. We found the trail and hiked both directions for a short ways. We were able to follow it with no problem. We were feeling better, but there were still some serious things to consider. First, more snow is on the way over the next few days. The forecast says accumulations of up to 2 feet total could be expected. Second, Hart’s Pass is at 6,000 feet, but we will get higher than that – up to 7,000. That means even more snow and colder temps. Third, navigating out here in snow can be tricky. Fourth, it’s going to be cold. Fifth, we all have slightly different comfort levels in these conditions.

One thing was for sure, and pretty unanimous – we are all very determined to complete this thru hike. If there’s a chance we could hike the PCT to the monument at the Canadian border, we’re going to do it. We gathered together in a hotel room and started the discussion. After all kinds of alternate options were tossed around, we settled on sticking together, staying in town one more day while the bulk of this storm moves through, then head out Tuesday morning, bound for Canada, hoping for the best. Fun Size’s girlfriend is gathering all the winter gear she can get her hands on and meeting up with us, so we might have some warmer gear from them, which is awesome. I visited an outfitter today and bought a pair of goretex boots and a new, warmer base layer. A few others did the same. So we’re gearing up – physically and mentally for this last push. We have a strong group of amazing people here that I feel very comfortable and safe with, and I am feeling confident that we can do this.

Tomorrow we gather our gear together, food, and watch what the weather does. Plans can still change, but that’s kind of where we are right now.

Congrats to all of you that have made it, by the way! Seeing the photos on the PCT Class of 2013 facebook page is really motivating!

60 miles. 4 days. 3 nights. That’s it. We’ve got this!


Tonight I love the hot tub at this hotel. It was fantastic sitting in there with Adam while cold raindrops landed on my shoulders. Any way I can take that thing with me on the trail?

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Project Rock Removal from the road to Hart's Pass.

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This tiny adorable little mouse squeezed himself under the tread of Fun Size's shoe. He was about as big around as a quarter. Cutest thing ever!

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What is the record number of passengers in the Pickle Jar? We got 8 in today, I think.

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Another snow shot from the PCT at Hart's Pass.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 160: C-c-c-c-cold.

Sat. 9/28/13
19.1 miles (Miles 2580.2 – 2599.3)
High Bridge/Stehekin – Rainy Pass

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Crazy, cold, neverending rain!

The 8am bus out of Stehekin took us back to the trail in the pouring rain. The only way any of us were willing to go out there in this weather was knowing we weren’t going to have to camp in it. We were all going to hike straight through to Rainy Pass on Hwy. 20 and get into town where we could be dry and warm again. I’m really glad we did it this way, because I can’t remember ever being that cold.

Let’s see… the group this time: me, Tears, Cuddles, Fun Size, Delightful, Lionheart, Lighthouse, Atlas, Pony, St. Alfonzo, Games and Reason.

The 19 miles we hiked weren’t really terribly challenging as far as terrain goes, but it wasn’t easy stuff, either. It’s actually funny how I look forward to climbs in this kind of weather – just to get warm. The views we had were okay, but were usually stopped short by clouds. We’d get a peek of a mountain on the other side of a river canyon enough to see snow accumulating up high, then a cloud would move in and hide it again. We had a few river crossings, which really didn’t matter much. We all had completely soaked feet, so slipping a foot in didn’t matter anyway. In fact, sometimes the water from the streams felt warmer than the water already in our shoes. A few just skipped the dainty rock-hopping and trudged right through. The trails were muddy and lined with flowing water in spots, and after a few miles I gave up on trying to dodge puddles since my socks were soaked anyway. We all just hiked and hiked and when we’d see each other, we’d always ask, “how are you doing?” and the response was usually an uneasy smile and a delayed, “okaaay.” Then we’d shiver and hike on.

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Huddled under the awning of a locked shelter.

It was nice to have a group to hike with again. Struggling in the cold and wet is a little more tolerable when you have good company. I especially appreciate the cheerfulness most of these people manage to share… it makes this kind of fun. We hiked through without breaks, and that makes it a bit tougher. I stopped only to pee and fill my water a couple of times. It’s hard on the feet and shoulders when you don’t stop, but thankfully I wore my thicker Smartwool socks. I think that really helped my toes stay warm.

Once we finally arrived at Rainy Pass, we were shocked and entirely impressed that there was trail magic! Frosty, a hiker from last year was there with his wife and their dog handing out donuts, cookies, chips, beer, soda and hot cider. I was all over that hot cider! Aloha wasn’t there to meet us yet, so we hung out under their tarp shivering and waiting. All but me, Atlas and Lighthouse got a ride to town. I jumped up and down when Aloha drove up… a warmed car, and a ride to town with more warm.

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Trail magic!

We went to Winthrop where Aloha had rooms reserved for us all. He and I went to our room where I got into the hot shower as soon as I could. The cold weather broke me down a little bit. I did okay until I had to stop hiking and wait when I got totally shivery. When that hot water hit my head I started to cry. I was mostly overwhelmed with the feeling of my body going from cold to warm, and feeling so thankful that I had this opportunity to warm up. I closed my eyes and visualized the trail we’d just hiked and just couldn’t believe I’m getting through this as well as I am. Well, until I’m able to go from cold to warm as quickly as that shower made me!

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A view from earlier today.

We met for dinner at the Old Schoolhouse brewpub and I ate a brat that mostly just made me hungry for a real Wisconsin brat. But it was pretty good. We discussed so many options, and I think we’re all feeling pretty beat down. We plan to drive up to Hart’s Pass tomorrow to check it out and we’ll reevaluate then.

For now, a bath and wine. Yup. I’m a PCT thru hiker very happy to be in a hotel tonight.


Tonight I love the hot shower I took tonight. Best. Shower. Ever.

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A bridge we passed today. Thankfully there was an easy log crossing just upstream.

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A delicious peach on a rainy day.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 159: Stehekin. The end?

Fri. 9/27/13
9.6 miles (Miles 2570.6 – 2580.2)
Cedar Camp – High Bridge/Stehekin

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If you ever really wanna get away... for real...

It’s getting real. Real scary. Probably 15 people took the ferry out of Stehekin and are done, or hoping the weather forecast improves, or are getting microspikes for their shoes and maybe coming back. Winter is definitely here in the Cascades and it’s causing some of us to make the most difficult decision of this entire trip: to stop hiking less than 100 miles from the border. Most just don’t have the time for more days off, so instead of waiting it out and maybe going back out in miserable weather, they’re deciding to go home to their families. I can’t really blame anyone for that kind of decision.

But me? I have time, and I’m going to hike the PCT northbound until I either hit a wall of snow and have to turn back (and possibly take an alternate road walk), or I get to Monument 78… the Canadian border. I hope for the latter.

This is how this all played out: we woke up and hiked out to High Bridge where a bus comes four times a day to bring hikers into the secluded town of Stehekin. We caught the 12:15pm bus along with Kudu, Soup, Games, Reason, Pony, Alfonzo, T-CoZee, Sensei, and Rotisserie. Bill, the awesome bus driver first stopped at the Ranch and picked up a few vacationers, as well as Atlas, Cuddles, and Fun Size.

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Bus ride!

We stopped at the bakery next. I’ve heard so much about this bakery. I figured the donuts were really good, but I don’t think they even had a donut. They had waaay better stuff. They had fresh-made pizza, scones, pie, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, coffee, day-old goods, kuchen, and more that I can’t even remember. It was amazing.  We were running on the bus’s schedule, so we were kind of hurried – but those bakery workers were quick and got us all checked out with our loot and on our way. They are definitely used to us coming in starving and crazed. I spent $24 on bakery and can’t wait to eat it all. Apparently a thru-hiker spent $98 there last year… that’s the record. Wow!

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Holy yummers!

Next we stopped at The Garden, where you can buy goat cheese, honey, fruit and some other miscellaneous treats. I bought a huge peach that I plan to eat tomorrow. It was a beautiful place with a huge garden, flowers, veggies and a great little store outside to purchase goodies.

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Stehekin is an incredible place.

Then we arrived in Stehekin. Hunny Bunny said she saw my name on the list at the post office, but I wasn’t expecting anything. I stopped in, and it turns out I had a surprise package from Just A Bob, who is a hiker that we met earlier in the trip. He’s been following my blog (hi and thank you Just A Bob!). He sent a really nice card, some cash for me, Tears and Hunny Bunny to split, and a Hawaiian shirt for Aloha (it’ll be too small for him, so I’ll wear it!).

Then the hype started swirling around us and making us spin. Snow in the mountains – three whole, huge, dangerous feet of snow. There will be snow down to 2600 feet in elevation, even. 10″ of rain in the next 24 hours, causing possible mudslide and rock slides. Oh, and I guess every inch of rain equals one foot of snow in the mountains… so my quick math says there will be 10 feet of snow somewhere. There will be blizzard snows with no visibility and difficult navigation. Alternates, elevation, passes, bailout points, lack of bailout points, wet socks, shoes, sleeping bags, cold… it was all discussed. How much is true? I don’t have any idea until I hike into and see it, I suppose.

Okay…

The more that was discussed made me feel more determined to check it out to see what the situation actually is. I won’t be stupid about it… I don’t think… but I can’t quit based on three different weather reports of what might be going on out there. I’m too stubborn. I’ll hike until I hit a wall of snow and see with my own eyes that I can’t go any further. Even if I have to wait a week for the weather to clear, I’m going to give it all I have with the resources I have. Garbage bags on my feet to keep my socks drier? Sure… whatever it takes.

I called Adam from the one satellite phone in town using a calling card and asked him to meet us at Rainy Pass tomorrow night (Saturday) instead of Sunday. We’re taking the first shuttle out, hiking in the predicted miserable downpour for 19 miles, getting in the car with Aloha and going into town for a day until the weather hopefully improves. We’ll be one stretch closer with only about 60 miles left.

This is crazy. I never thought I’d be in Stehekin thinking about this stuff. I thought we were playing it safe finishing in the first week of October. Well, darnit… winter’s early, so here we are. Please pray for friendly weather and safe travels for us and the hikers heading out into this stuff… because here we go again!


Tonight I love the excitement this last stretch is giving us… it’s really getting me pumped up. I just hope it’s fairly smooth sailing.

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A few fall colors in the woods.

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Another really cool mushroom.

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The crew taking the ferry out... not sure how many plan to come back... it was really hard to say good-bye to these awesome friends we've made.

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To decompress I suppose a game of Monopoly should be played. I traded Lighthouse a jar of frosting for a railroad, and a property for a game piece trade with Fun Size. That's okay, right?

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My Moose Drool cap says it all. It's like Cool Whip only snow, making Misery Whip. I really don't know...

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 158: Take a shortcut or two?

Thurs. 9/24/13
26.1 miles (Miles 2544.5 – 2570.6)
Vista Creek – Cedar Camp

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Please clouds... don't drop rain...

Today left us with decisions, but I found them fairly easy. Today was the day we had to cross the infamous Suiattle River. We had choices as to how we wanted to cross it, too. This was our biggest decision of the day.

Choice one was to take the old PCT route, which is a whopping five miles shorter (no sarcasm there… five is a pretty big deal). The catch to this choice is twofold. First, it’s no longer the PCT, which really isn’t a big of a deal since it’s the original PCT (in my opinion, anyway. These topics tend to be a little controversial out here). Second, crossing the Suiattle on this route is known to be dangerous. There is a log that apparently can be quite slippery that most hikers butt-scoot across. It’s a drop into a deep, cold, swift current if one were to fall. With temps in the low 40’s, and a river sweeping you downstream with a backpack on, a fall here could mean a seriously life-threatening situation. So… naturally I felt excited about the idea of giving it a shot… oooh, danger… risk… fun… however, I know Tears absolutely did not want anything to do with crossing a river on a log when our other choice had a bridge. Besides, I haven’t strayed from the official route much this whole time, and the bridge crossing would be much simpler and safer. Our decision was easy. We went with choice two – take the new, official PCT route. Even though it’s five miles longer, it has a huge, sturdy, very new bridge over the Suiattle River. It was a wonderful, easy trail to get there, and the bridge was awesome. We even took a break on it.

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Beautiful bridge over the Suiattle River on the new PCT route between Skykomish and Stehekin.

Our next decision was whether or not to take a shortcut that would knock another four miles off of our day. I guess the shortcut brought you down into the valley and followed a river, while the PCT wound up over a pass and along a ridge. Again, not having any great reason to take a shortcut, we chose the PCT. A few took it for good reason – one was in a lot of pain and the terrain seemed more mellow, and it’s shorter, of course. Others needed to catch an early bus to Stehekin to get their resupply maildrop from the post office before they close. This route alleviated some pressure to hike crazy miles to get there on time.

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Very colorful trail heading into more mountainous terrain on the ridge we hiked.

So we just took the PCT all day, like normal. Tears and I hiked with Razor for most of the day today, and it’s been really great getting to know him better. He has a lot to do in Stehekin tomorrow, so we pushed out a tough 26 miles to put him in position to possibly catch the 9am bus. He plans to leave camp at 4am! Tears and I will shoot for the noon bus, so we don’t have to leave until our normal time at 7am. I’m excited to see Stehekin. It’s a town you can’t get to by car. The bus goes from the trail to a bakery, then town, but the road stops at the trail. There’s a four-hour ferry from the town of Chelan, but other than by trail or ferry, you’d have to fly in. It sounds really cool. I’m mostly excited to get food. Of all kinds. I’ve got a trail breakfast for tomorrow and two snacks that I saved, and I’m already hungry. I just didn’t pack enough  food for this stretch… I feel pretty dumb about it, too. Oh, well. I’ll make it just fine, I’ll just be drooling all over that bakery when I arrive and I hope to shove a donut in my face as soon as I can. Followed by brewed coffee… and maybe a sticky bun. Or two. And maybe another donut. Mmm, cream-filled.

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The sky totally cleared for a little bit today.

Anyway… it should be a good day. If Adam braved the long ferry ride, he might be there, too. I hope to see him, but if not tomorrow, I’ll see him Sunday when we resupply at Rainy Pass. Our plans for these last two sections are a little crazy, and we will base decisions mostly on weather. We heard from a southbounder today that rain is in the forecast for the next three days. We’ll see how it goes.

Less than 100 miles to go! Aaah! Crazy!


Tonight I love my rain gear. My pants keep me warm and ventilate with a full-length zipper from the hip so I don’t have to change during the day when there’s on-and-off rain. They are probably my favorite piece of gear for Washington. My jacket also keeps me warm… and dry in a downpour. It’s been a good combo and it’s keeping me fairly comfy in this crazy weather.

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A super-huge tree.

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Blueberry pastry? Nope... just another mushroom!

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Rain... we dodged a lot of rain clouds today, but this one sprinkled us for about a half an hour.

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Broken bridge... but still kept us dry!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 157: A lovely day in WA!

Wed. 9/25/13
22.0 miles (Miles 2522.5 – 2544.5)
Sitkum Creek – Vista Creek

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Ohmygosh this morning's cloud and sun sure made things pretty!

Views. That’s what today was all about. We got so many spectacular views from so many angles and around every corner. We’d climb to a pass, nearly pass out from overwhelming beauty and total perfection, then descend into forests full of obstacles, to a river, then back up to another pass with a totally different, yet just as amazing view.

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Let's see how many pics I can fit in this blog entry.

The weather smiled on us all day long! YAY!!! Mood-booster for everyone! Let’s hike to Canada!

Whew! Seriously, what an awesome day. It was a tough one, but so worth it. We had lots of big obstacles – downed trees (some really huge) that we had to crawl under, over, around, or even slide down beside. Some had footholds hatcheted into them so we could step up and over. There were river crossings, and even a few washouts. One was even detoured down a short, steep, slippery slope back to the trail. There were muddy spots to navigate and a foot-killing section of trail that was deep and narrow, like a trench. Thinking back on all of it, what fun! But it did make the miles go by slower. We trekked over a few last obstacles and into camp after dark by headlamp-light. I’m pooped… and pretty happy about it.

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Sometimes you gotta' hug a tree... to thru hike the PCT.

Oh! There was also a serious climb. Almost 2,000 feet up in 2-1/2 miles! This picture below is only part of the switchbacks (I believe there were around 40 total):

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Crazy hill!

I am calling that hill Sunshine Hill. As I started up the first couple of switchbacks, I could hear Sunshine talking to Hunny Bunny. It was obvious he was telling a story in detail because he just kept talking. I couldn’t see them because they were always just one level up on the switchbacks, and I was getting tiny bits and pieces of his story… something about New Zealand and hitchhiking. I picked up my pace and caught up to Hunny Bunny to hear more. Then Alphabet Soup was behind me, and Kudu after her. Nobody wanted to pass because Sunshine was telling this amazing story about a girl he met while working in New Zealand. It was one of the most romantic, sweet stories, and the way he told it held our interest for those two miles all uphill. Us three girls were all “awwwwing” behind him as he shared the story. It was like listening to a live podcast, only better because we know Sunshine. What a great way to climb a hill!

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Looking up a green meadow at a snowy peak.

I think our greatest view… ah… one of our greatest views (they were all so good!) was at Fire Pass. It was pretty darn snowy and a bit chilly up there, but it was incredible. The horizon was lined with short zigzagged mountain peaks, all tipped in fresh, white snow against our oh-so-thankful-for blue sky. I jumped for happy joyfulness a few times up there, and Bramble took a photo of it for me.

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Wow! Check out that scenery!

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Heading down from Fire Pass.

I really loved Goat Rocks, but I think today may have won out as my favorite in Washington so far. It might have something to do with coming out of a couple of really tough days of nasty weather… and the fact that my shoes are finally almost dry, and I could feel my toes for the first time in three days… but whatever it is, today was just really great. I really had it all, even a teal mountain lake way up high.

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It almost doesn't seem real because it's so perfectly hand-crafted ny God himself. Amazing.

At camp, we squeezed our large group of tents into a pretty tight little spot. It’s cozy. Two cool tidbits from today:
First, Sunshine yogi’d a Larabar from a southbounder and gave it to me because I was ravenous today and running low on food (I planned poorly for this section). Thanks, Sunshine… and I believe the sobo was Gift-Giver, appropriately named! Second, we ran into Atlas, whom we haven’t seen in a while! That’s really awesome! It was fun catching up with him.

…and shoot. It’s starting to rain… Whaaaaa! I’m goin’ to sleep and dreaming of warmth, dryness and sunshine. Happy thoughts… happy thoughts…


Tonight I love feeling happily exhausted… it’s one of my most favorite feelings ever.

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View as the sun started to sink down.

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A fun bridge we crossed first thing this morning.

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A sunrise rainbow? That's new!

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Tiny frost-tipped leaves.

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Tears, Razor and Sunshine.

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A really deep drop-off that would be a base-jumper's dream.

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Yup. More pretty!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)

Day 156: First big snow

Tue. 9/24/13
22.2 miles (Miles 2500.3 – 2522.5)
Pass Creek – Sitkum Creek

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Some views today were so incredible they hardly seemed real.

Today was so much better. We got sprinkled on, snowed on, hiked through snow, and kept hiking at times just so we could stay warm, but we got some short patches of blue sky and on-again-off-again glimpses of sunshine. A wee bit of sun can make such a difference.

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Another spectacular morning view.

Tears and I have loosely joined a large group for this section. It’s been so physically and mentally tough that we thought grouping up a bit would help, and it did. So far six thru-hikers have turned back and hiked south back towards Stehekin. Some said they were going home and some were going to reevaluate and maybe continue. It’s pretty intimidating to see other hikers in your exact position, having already hiked 2,500 miles decide this is it. Are we silly, or stupid, to hike up that pass that we hear is full of snow and in white-out conditions? We don’t have any idea… but as a group we all decided to keep going. We could share our misery with each other if we had to, we could support and encourage one another, and we can laugh our way through if needed. It really was comforting to spend time with everyone in this group, and seeing first hand that we’re not the only ones with a wet tent, or cold toes, or a damp sleeping bag. We’re all PCT thru-hikers, and we’re all in the same position. It was really obvious when the sun poked out for a few minutes – gear flew out of everyone’s packs to dry.

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Gear-drying party.

Getting up this morning was great. It was cold, but it was NOT raining! Thank you, God! We all totally needed that. What a morale-booster! Everything was still damp, but at least we didn’t have to scramble getting it all packed up.

Once we started hiking, we climbed. First all the plants and pine needles were wet – beaded with dew. A short while later and a little higher in elevation, and those dew drops were frozen in tiny, solid beads on all the leaves. Pine needles left drops of water frozen in place, as if they were just about to drop before the cold stopped them. A little higher yet and the leaves and pines were dusted with lingering snow.

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Frozen dew.

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Straight-up snow.

We came out of some forest to an opening and were completely blown away. The scene before us was absolutely surreal. It looked like a backdrop painting for a movie set or something, except it moved as we moved, it was three-dimensional, and it was purely… real. For a few miles we all took turns gasping, ooohing and aaahing as we hiked along.

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Crazy-freakin'-gorgeous.

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Part of our group.

We dried out some things at lunchtime, and after that we climbed some more. Then some more. We got to 6,000 feet in elevation and it was snowing flakes big enough to catch on your tongue. The snow on the ground also got deeper and deeper. It probably never really got over a few inches deep, but it was enough that we were sure winter was here in the Washington Cascades.

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...winter... oh, boy.

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Snowy, slushy trails.

Hiking in the snow became interesting and honestly, quite sketchy. We were on a pretty steep ridge, and the trail turned slushy. The slush was slippery, and we had to be very careful not to slide down the mountainside. It would not be a fun kind of glissade, or sledding adventure. We all splooshed on up the trail, reached the pass and headed back down the other side. As we dropped in elevation, the snow got lighter and lighter, while the mud got deeper and sloppier. It was still slippery in spots for the rest of the day, so we just had to walk carefully.

We finally wound down into forest again and enjoyed the change to pine-needly trails. The forest floor was draped in a blanket of fuzzy, bright moss everywhere you looked, and I quickly became distracted by all the mushrooms once again. 

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Forest draped completely in moss.

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Mushrooms, yay!

We are camped near Sitkum creek at a large site. Let’s see if I can list everyone that’s here: me, Tears, Cuddles, Fun Size, Sunshine, Hunny Bunny, Lighthouse, Delightful, Bramble, Sensei, Rotisserie, Pony, St. Alfonzo, Games, Reason, Kudu, Alphabet Soup, Kazu, and Razor. I think that’s everyone. Some of us collected dry tinder when we found it through the day, so we had a nice, small campfire. And I’m glad Razor is here. This morning we ran into him heading south. He was going to hike back to town and be done. He even said he’d recorded his “I’m done” video, but we encouraged him to hike with us and keep going. He did, and it sounds like he’s really happy with that decision.
It sounds like we’ve got another high pass tomorrow that will probably be snowy. I’m not sure everyone will stick together, though. There are a couple of shortcuts that involve sketchy river fords, but I’m pretty sure Tears and I will stick to the PCT, which is longer, but has wonderful bridges. We like bridges.


Tonight I love my mom’s dehydrated venison stroghanoff meal (is that how you spell that?). I had some for dinner tonight and eating ground meat and mushrooms felt like a luxury out here on the trail. Yum!

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Brrr... I'm sitting in my sleeping bag, but looking at these photos makes me shiver.

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Crazies... all of us!

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Sweeping mountain valley

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Bright lichens.

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Snowflakes!

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Yay!

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)